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HAMMERED AT HOME: Canadiens Get Cozy in Sunrise, Roll Panthers 5-2 ... Cats Have Fallen Behind in 7 of 9, Lost 13 of 16

CANADIENS 5, PANTHERS 2

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Jacob Markstrom's most memorable win in his young career came early last season in Montreal.

In just his third start, Markstrom made 40 saves against the Canadiens for what was one of many victories for the Panthers that year.

These aren't the same two teams they were back then. Not even close.

On Sunday, the much-improved Canadiens scored twice in the first and took a four-goal lead before beating the reeling Panthers 5-2 at BB&T Center.

Montreal has won four of five and sit atop the Eastern Conference; Florida has lost 13 of 16 and are dead last in the entire league.

With Sunday's loss, the Panthers failed to beat Montreal during a season for the first time in franchise history. Montreal won all three meetings between the two in this shortened season. The all-time series is also now tied.

"This is unacceptable. We've been through this before and it's not fun. I'm sick of losing,'' said Shawn Matthias, who scored his fourth goal in six games to make it a 4-2 game in the third.

"We need to change things, turn this ship around. It's frustrating and it has gone on long enough. They were ripe for the picking and we didn't take advantage of it.''

Despite playing without Brandon Prust, who separated a shoulder Saturday in Tampa, jumped all over the Panthers early on and scored twice in the opening two periods.

The Canadiens looked to be losing their legs in the third, but just as the Panthers pulled to within striking range, Kris Versteeg took a penalty and the Canadiens' power play came back up to the plate.

Michael Ryder, acquired in a deal with Dallas last month, deflected a P.K. Subban shot past Markstrom with 4:17 remaining. Those two hooked up for a similar goal on a Marcel Goc penalty midway through the first.

"They are one of the top teams in the league -- and look like it,'' coach Kevin Dineen said.

"They went from one of the worst teams to one of the best and basically it's because they're working hard. That's a page of their book we need to take.''

Roles have been reversed among the two squads as the Panthers won the Southeast Division last season and were the No. 3 seed in the east all while the Canadiens finished last for the first time in their storied history.

This year, Montreal -- with part-time South Florida resident Michel Therrien behind the bench -- has shot to the top of the east with 38 points in 26 games. Florida has just 20 points.

Sunday, the Canadiens did what they wanted against the Panthers as they kept the puck in the Florida zone for much of the night and outshot the Panthers 38-16 -- and an embarrassing 25-9 in the final 40 minutes.

Markstrom ended up with 33 saves after facing 38 shots on goal. Montreal backup Peter Budaj only faced 16 shots all night and gave up one of Florida's goals to his own teammate as Francis Bouillon didn't clear a puck down low -- instead he put it into the net for the Panthers' first goal to make it 4-1.

Tomas Kopecky was credited with the phantom goal. Matthias later pulled Florida within two and it looked like the Panthers may have something cooking.

Florida's third period comeback was too little and too late as the Panthers have a bad habit of falling behind early all season.

The Panthers have trailed from the start in seven of its past nine games. The Panthers won just one of those contests as they have been behind by an average of 3-0 in those games in which they have initially trailed.

"We need better starts,'' rookie Jonathan Huberdeau said. "It's always 2-0 after five minutes and it's hard to come back in those kind of games.''

-- Versteeg in the lineup for the second straight night after missing 12 games with a chest injury, the Panthers sent winger Jon Rheault back to their AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Rheault, 26, made his NHL debut last week for the Panthers against Winnipeg and appeared in three games.

Comments

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Campbell another -3 tonight. That's -17 for the season. That's a joke. Gotta be up there for top's in the league. Keep him on the bench a lil more KD, others can't be any worse

Seth Jones? Hopefully, the new NHL draft rules don't screw us over, because we'll be finishing last.

May as well finish last and atleast have that shot at #1 overall. Jones will likely go #1 but Drouin will probably still be there even if Florida picks 3rd. It will be hard to be a loser in this draft if you pick in the top 5.

Tallon said he is always looking towards the future as far as trades. The fan base has been hearing this for the past sixteen years. If he doesn't right the ship soon, there won't be a fan base. This team is non competitive and admission should be free.

Has anyone ever seen Jeffrey Loria and Michael Yormark in the same room?

Sure Campbell doesn't have Garrison or Weaver all the pressure is on him and he's playing enormous minutes for a guy that's been in this league forever. The team is down. Hockey players are human too. Bad non signings, lousy signings, injuries, goaltending injuries and poor performances, Bergenheim out and who knows what's going to happen to this clutch player? They are playing with a lack of talent and management isn't making it any better with their decisions. But the loud music and "let's make some NOISE (for NOISE sake?)" will encourage the players on for sure. The team sucks. Good effort for the most part with a team that's lacking talent due to Tallon, Yormakcy and the other brainiacs. From what we had last year to this mess. OIY!

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